Almondsey


Estalian River Fortresses

The upper reaches of the River Lin mark the eastern boundary of Estalia with Almondsey. South is the Great Marsh and east is the Lin Gorge. Although usually on much older sites dating to the Dark Ages, the fortifications along the river were mostly refurbished under Himzip-tol-Ten's Estalian Renaissance of the 17th Century.


Castle Pain

This was a very old Estalian fortification dating back to the 800's, but it was substantially rebuilt under Himzip-tol-Ten, utilizing the same simple linear plan and the very thick stone walls of the original. The main additions were the lodgings for the garrison in the outer ward and the modernization of the great hall and kitchen area; also, the towers were heightened and strengthened to support cannons on their roofs. Castle Pain was always just a military site, not part of the theocratic government (although there was of course a resident Inquisitor and a couple of Enforcers). It was badly damaged by bombardment by the Almondese from Nuorgk in the late 1700's, especially the south curtain and lodgings, but was restored when Count Poggit of Hamnet Bridge established North Poggit county* in those turbulent times. It is now his capital seat with its nearby, unauthorized, but rather large village ('Pain'). The name derives from the old Estalian word for rocky place. There is a Whitcraft Tower (WT-5), now a personal keep for the Counts, four miles to the north, where there is a gap in the Lin Gorge.

* North Poggit county seceded from Poggit County during this turbulent period. It is an impoverished land, in fact has only one Palbo village, far west by the northern highway, but it has survived as a sort of Siberia/Rhode Island for Estalia -- lot of back-woods communes and things like that, even up into remote areas of Upper March county. The capital is the adulterine village of Pain, located outside the castle drawbridge, and contains the moot hall and ducal palace (both timber structures).


The entire building is built within the original ditch and embankments of the Dark Age fort along a natural cliff by the river on the south and east. The walls and tower foundations are also original, although refaced with mortared ashlar and grouting poured into the old dry-stone walling. Note the three curtain walls separating the linear layout: An outer wall, or barbican, with a drawbridge, leading to a forecourt, a two-level curtain wall with portcullis leading to the outer ward, and a smaller wall enclosing the inner ward with its keep tower and great hall. There is very little effort to provide flanking cover, the main defense being the very thick walls, the artillery towers, and of course the treacherous river in its gorge. There is a sallyport leading down to the river next to the keep tower. To the north lie thick, untravelled woodlands.

Great effort was made to provide for the comfort of this remote and dangerously located garrison: a kitchen/pantry (with cellar under, and dormitories for servants over), a two-level building containing four separate 'lodges' on each floor, and a two-story great hall with pillars and a gallery. Oddly enough, there are no fireplaces, except for the kitchen stove and oven and the open hearth in the great hall; presumably, braziers were used elsewhere. The gate tower is totally defensive -- guard rooms and the gun battery atop the vaulted second floor. The captain of the garrison lived in the rooms next to the tower in the inner ward. There are no less than nine garderobes along the river wall.

The parapets atop the very thick curtain walls are in the 'German' style -- that is, roofed with a timber trellis-work on the inner side. On the most protected side of the fortress is the double keep tower (a large square building and a secondary lower one, which is also a gun battery, connected by a mural passage). It is presumed the lower floors of the gun tower were for the use of the religious officials. The keep was reserved for visiting nobility and upper-echelon military staff, but has a large gun battery on top and a watch tower at the eastern angle.

Ronald's Ait Castle

At the top part of the Great Marsh on the edge of the Poggit Hills there is this small fortress on an island in the main channel of the river. Impractical as a defense against an uncrossable border, it is also pretty much impregnable; it was a posting for generals in disgrace -- such as Lord Ronald of Polycampo, after whom it is named. It consists basically of a keep tower and a gatehouse complex for the garrison, connected to the mainland by a wooden bridge and otherwise accessed by water landings for small boats. It was never captured, or even besieged, but is in a very dilapidated state, and still serves as a place of exile. There is a Whitcraft Fortlet (Fort Poggit) to the north, also along the swamp.

Craglin Castle

Built on a high crag overlooking a bend in the river, in the Lin Gorge, this castle was probably a Dark Age site -- possibly a broch and rampart along the lines of the current keep tower and curved wall -- but nothing remains of that. It is no doubt the most dramatic-looking of the Estalian river forts, although it is not very large. It is the seat of Duke Craglin of the Upper March, and as such has rather more elaborate accommodations than usual. The fourth Duke was a famous necromancer, hence the mysterious rooms in the upper part of the keep. There are three Whitcraft Towers to the north of Craglin (including L'mozzian's Tower, which is the northernmost) and one to the west, as this is the northern frontier. The Duke also has a tower-house (Fladgate) protecting the Holy City of Talibar located along the road to Quadron.

The L-shaped block contains the gatehouse, kitchen, retainers' quarters, and two-story great hall. There is a moat and a drawbridge cutting off the crag from the promontory of which it forms the apex. Keep and curved western curtain wall are on the site of the prehistoric remains. South of the keep is a wing containing the Duke's private quarters. There are two courtyards -- a larger one serving as a ward, and an inner court for private use. The gatehouse tower houses the garrison, and the river gorge, or Captain's tower, is part of the domestic offices. Ground floor of the keep was a temple, underneath which is a cellar/prison.
The keep has a circular outer gallery containing the continuous mural staircase and several small chambers that served different purposes (including the priest's and valet's bedrooms). The square tower connecting to the great hall held the Duke's office, study, and aerie. Fourth story of the keep (not shown) has a conical roof and a covered parapet, much like a French chateau; it was the Duke's necromantic laboratory and was reached by a hidden stairway (also not shown). The curtain wall is on two levels, the lower curved 'chemise' wall and the higher parapet overlooking the gorge and the moat. Flat tops to the gatehouse and Captain's Tower were supported by vaults in the 18th Century to provide platforms for artillery. Note the two cap-houses for use by the defenders -- the northern wall-top here can only be reached by trapdoors in these structures.

Whitcraft Fortlets

Three small forts of the same design were built to fill defensive gaps by Archduke Hralrlfladenulel in Napoleonic times. They were named after Whitcraft, who designed the earlier towers in the 17th Century, but had nothing to do with him. Fort Sil (WF-1) in the northeast is on the shore of Lake Sil, not far from the Almondese city of Ffanshoe. Fort Liver (WF-2) is just to the north of the town of Hamnet, facing Nuorgk on the Almondese side of the river. And Fort Poggit (WF-3) covers the entrance to the Great Marsh, with the town of Kajudder on the Almondsey side. (Just northwest of this fort, on the edge of a ravine, is The Catriona Hotel in the town of Ho.) These are really not much more than 'thumb-your-nose' forts as they are opposed to three of the strongest walled towns in Almondsey, which is very amusing to the populace of the latter; but that didn't stop the Nuorgkers from blowing up the Fort Liver watch tower in 1840. Fort Liver was then decommissioned and now serves as a dormitory for the Lord Poggit farm estate -- the largest agricultural business in the county.
They are all basically squares with a central barrack block, three angled batteries, and a watch tower. The curtain on the river side is thickened to support a heavy three-gun battery; there are triangular bastions at the gable ends of the barracks that contain garderobes. (For security reasons, the location of the underground powder magazines is not shown.) A small gatehouse (with a drawbridge) includes a room bridged over the courtyard. Fort Sil has a dry ditch rather than a wet moat as it is built on a considerable slope.

Hamnet Castle and Fort Lorig

Hamnet, the capital of North Estalia, has its own web page and will not be discussed here, except to say that it has, of course, its own river fort (Ft. Liver) and castle.

Fort Lorig, sited across the river from the Almondese walled town of Kajudder is not illustrated on this page. It was destroyed in 1840 by a combined force of Nuorgkers and Kajuds and only the impressive ruins remain. There was an older castle here, but it was torn down in 1803 (except for the keep) to make way for a large artillery fortification with redans, covered ways, and a glacis, located a quarter mile to the south. Ever a military site only, there was no civilian settlement nearby to speak of, but now the old keep is the centerpiece of the Fort Lorig Seminary, a minor college for priests of Thud/Lott, but the only 'establishment' one in North and West Estalia.


Paladrian Castle

This grand archducal castle in the Lin Gorge has been given its own web page.
Lin Gorge

Estalia